Rare Gift

Rubenstein donation will renovate special collections
October 1, 2011


New chapter

New chapter: Architectural rendering of entrance plaza for the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
Duke University Libraries

As a student at Duke, David M. Rubenstein ’70 had a job at the library, an experience he says had a profound impact on his education. Now, Rubenstein is returning the favor, making the largest gift ever to the Duke Libraries.

The $13.6 million gift will support renovation of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, which houses more than 20 million items in archives that span twenty centuries of human history. Located in the original West Campus Library, the special collections preserve a range of unique and historically significant documents, from ancient papyri to the records of modern advertising agencies (see story, page 17). In recognition of the gift, the special-collections library will be renamed the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, following approval by the board of trustees.

The planned renovation, the final phase of the decade-long project to update Duke’s library facilities, will increase the research, instruction, storage, and exhibition capabilities of the special-collections library while addressing the need for increased security and technology. The project also will remake the main entrance to the West Campus Library, with new doors, windows, and lighting.

Rubenstein, a Duke trustee who is cofounder and managing director of The Carlyle Group, is himself a collector of rare manuscripts. In 2007, he purchased the last privately owned copy of the Magna Carta, at Sotheby’s auction house in New York, which he has loaned to the National Archives in Washington. Earlier this year, Rubenstein donated $13.5 million to the National Archives for a new gallery and visitors center. He also has made gifts to Duke of $5.75 million to the Sanford School of Public Policy and $5 million toward the completion of Sanford’s Rubenstein Hall.

“Libraries are at the heart of any great educational institution,” he said in announcing the gift. “This renovation and modernization program will help ensure that the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s priceless collection is preserved and accessible to scholars and the public for decades to come.”